WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Chainsaw Man Vol. 1 by Tatsuki Fujimoto, Amanda Haley and Sabrina Heep, available in English now from Viz Media.
Chainsaw Man has quickly become one of the most popular series in Weekly Shonen Jump, and its first translated volume serves as a bloody introduction to the chainsaw-toting Denji. With plenty to cover, it's an essential installment to rev readers up for Tatsuki Fujimoto's wild Devil-hunting adventure.
The inaugural installment of Chainsaw Man collects Chapters #1-7, focusing on the down on his luck Denji, a destitute young man who, following his father's suicide, inherits an insurmountable debt to the Yakuza. With his best friend Pochita -- a Chainsaw Devil dog -- the pair earn money any way they can, from selling Denji's right eye to hunting down other Devils. Since virtually all of their earnings go to paying off debt collectors, Denji and Pochita must live off as little as a single slice of bread a day. Here are all of the first volume's key events.
Denji & Pochita Hunt Devils
One night, as Denji discusses his dreams with Pochita, he is summoned to slay another Devil. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a trap set by the Zombie Devil, now a zombified group of Yakuza members, who kill Denji. Things look well and truly over for the duo as their severed bodies are tossed into a dumpster, but as Denji's blood drips into Pochita's mouth, they begin fusing. All of Denji's wounds are healed, including his missing eye.
In Pochita's only vocal lines, he tells Denji that he's always loved listening to him talk about his dreams, and in exchange for showing them to him one day, Pochita offers his heart. Pochita is absorbed into Denji's body with only his cord-like tail remaining, which hangs from Denji's chest. As he bursts out of the dumpster, Denji enacts bloody vengeance on the Zombie Devil and transformed Yakuza members by pulling the cord and becoming the Chainsaw Devil.
Denji's Transformation Into Chainsaw Man
Amid the grisly carnage, Denji is confronted by three Devil Hunters who arrive on the scene. This group includes the enigmatic Makima, who immediately realizes something strange about Denji as he collapses into her arms. Offering him a choice, Makima asks if Denji would rather be killed now as a Devil or kept alive as her human pet. After choosing the latter, things take a swift turn for Denji as Makima kindly offers to buy him a meal and even gives him her jacket. Having always been looked down on, Denji is moved by Makima's kind gestures and smitten by her good looks.
Denji's excitement is short-lived though. He is summoned into action before getting to enjoy his food by a distressed man looking for help after a Devil took his daughter. Denji's protests are stomped out by Makima, who intimidatingly reminds him of his position as her pet -- she has no patience with disobedient dogs. Though Denji successfully saves the missing girl, he begins to have doubts about Makima's kindness.
As Makima takes Denji to the Devil Hunter Tokyo headquarters, they discuss how Pochita sacrificed himself to become Denji's heart. However, Makima assures him that his friend is still very much alive inside him since she can sense both a human and Devil's scent on him. Delighted to hear Pochita is still with him, Denji again begins to fall for Makima, who continues to show him glimpses of kindness.
Aki & Denji Get Off To a Rocky Start
Makima works as a Public Safety Devil Hunter, a government-sanctioned organization responsible for eliminating Devil-related threats. Denji meets the stoic Aki Hayakawa, a member of Makima's squad, and the two get off to a rough start, exacerbated by Makima having Denji move in with Aki. Though Denji is now officially a member of their squad, Makima reveals that if he ever quits or disobeys orders, he will be killed, which surprises even Aki.
Aki and Denji continue to clash after Denji expresses a willingness to befriend certain Devils. Since a Devil murdered Aki's entire family, he's been motivated by revenge and doubts Denji's commitment. However, to Denji, his seriousness comes from preserving this new standard of living he's found. With food and a place to sleep, Denji is in a better situation than ever before. However, he remembers another desire: "I wanna touch some boobs."
Denji is a 16-year-old who's already faced immense trauma, and while he certainly has added juvenile impulses, the core of his desires are still to lead a life with the bare minimum comforts -- food, a bed and affection. He does so for himself and Pochita since he feels the weight of their combined happiness now, especially considering their contract.
Denji and Aki are members of Makima's Special Division 4, an experimental squad within the Public Safety Devil Hunters. Another member of the team is a spirited Blood Fiend named Power, who can manipulate her blood into various weapons. Fiends are Devils who have taken over a person's corpse and have recognizably distinct head shapes, which in Power's case is her two horns. Due to the nature of their squad, if Division 4 isn't able to show results, then the team will be shut down, meaning Denji and Power would be killed.
Denji & Power Partner Up
Denji and Power end up bonding over a mutual love for their respective pets after Power reveals that her cat Meowy was stolen by a Devil. She hasn't seen her since being captured by Makima; however, knowing about Denji's desire, she offers to let him touch her chest if he can get Meowy back. Fueled with new vigor, Denji vows to "murderize that Devil," as the two set out on their mission.
Meanwhile, Makima meets with her superiors to discuss her high hopes for Denji, which Aki questions later. She explains that all Devils are born with a name, and the more that name is feared, the more powerful the Devil itself. (We've already seen sillier ones, like a Tomato and Seacucumber Devils, so a Chainsaw Devil could certainly be a frightening prospect.)
On their way to save Meowy, Denji empathizes with Power since he can't pet his dog anymore, but knows he's still alive inside of him. Power, still believing that Denji is a human, thinks he is just being foolishly sentimental. As they approach the house, Denji notices cracks in Power's story, but before he can react, Power knocks Denji unconscious and drags him inside.
Power delivers Denji to the grotesque Bat Devil, who complains about how long it's taken her to bring a human to feed on before squeezing blood out of Denji. The Bat Devil's wounds heal, but they grimace at the disgusting taste of Denji's hybrid blood. Dissatisfied, they refuse to uphold their end of the deal and eat Meowy, leaving Power despondent. Finally, sympathizing with Denji over his feelings for Pochita, Power is suddenly swallowed by the Bat Devil.
As the Bat Devil takes to the skies searching for more humans to eat, Denji reacts fast enough to grab onto its leg. While Power betrayed Denji, he understands the position she is in, again thinking back to Pochita, and vows to help her. Again in the Bat Devil's grip, Denji pulls the cord to rev up his inner chainsaw and take on his first major challenge as a Public Safety Devil Hunter.